Workplace bullies in the public service are costing Queensland taxpayers millions. Picture: Nicki Connolly
Workplace bullies in the public service are costing Queensland taxpayers millions. Picture: Nicki Connolly

Whopping $3.3m bill for public service bullying

PUBLIC servants have been paid out more than $3.3 million in less than two years for psychological trauma at their hands of workplace bullies.

More than 630 Queensland bureaucrats have complained they're been subjected to abuse, insults, offensive comments, unjustified criticism, deliberate exclusion, malicious rumours or offensive emails since mid-2017.

Most complainants were from doctors, nurses, teachers and police officers, but fewer than one in five were substantiated.

Hundreds of Queensland public servants have complained of workplace bullies in the past two years.
Hundreds of Queensland public servants have complained of workplace bullies in the past two years.

However, 94 workers were found to have suffered "psychological injuries as a result of bullying and harassment".

They were paid weekly benefits, medical or rehabilitation costs or lump sums totalling an average of $35,200 each.

Apart from obviously nasty behaviour, the Government also details workplace bullying as unjustified complaints, deliberate exclusion, withholding important work information, setting unreasonable timelines or altered deadlines and changing rosters or leave to deliberately inconvenience someone.

Health Minister Steven Miles said Queensland Health was by far the biggest government department and thus the proportion of its 90,000 staff affected by bullying were "an incredibly small fraction".

Health Minister Steven Miles
Health Minister Steven Miles

 

Education Minister Grace Grace
Education Minister Grace Grace

"Queensland Health and the individual Hospital and Health Services have a number of strategies in place to get the number closer to zero," he said.

Education Minster Grace Grace also pointed to the size of her department - also around 90,000 staff - and said it had "zero tolerance" for bullying and harassment.

"That employees feel that they can report allegations of such behaviour shows that the training and information we provide to all staff is working," she said.

"The low number of accepted bullying and harassment-related WorkCover claims shows that this is not a wider cultural issue for the department."

However, figures provided to The Courier-Mail show the numbers of complaints over the past two years are higher than the preceding three years.

And payouts in 2017/18 - $2.375 million - were significantly more than usual.

All up, taxpayers have coughed up more than $7.2 million over the past five years thanks to workplace bullies.

 

WORST OFFENDERS

 

Queensland Health: 248 complaints, 34 substantiated

Education Department: 168 complaints, 27 substantiated

Queensland Police: 84 complaints, 16 substantiated

*Office of Industrial Relations figures, 2017/18- 2018/19 YTD